In Conventions and Events
''I believe this is what sets us apart from others- our genuine service excellence, which is the heartbeat of the Durban ICC.’’'
An Interview with Lindiwe Rakharebe
CEO - Durban International Convention Centre
Our interview on Profitability with LINDIWE RAKHAREBE, Chief Executive Officer at Durban ICC, centres on the warm subtropical hub of tourism in Durban as we explore the numerous benefits for MICE and business tourism provided by the world renowned Durban International Convention Centre in South Africa. Executive Global look into the finer details of what it takes to cut the mustard as one of the preeminent institutions responsible for staging some of the world’s most prestigious and complex events.
EG: Having hosted celebrities including Mary J. Blige, Josh Groban, and Enrique Inglesias, comment upon the global appeal of Durban ICC in relation to MICE?
Lindiwe Rakharebe: Durban offers all the conveniences one would expect from a modern convention city including a world-class airport, an efficient transport system, a wide variety of excellent hotels and restaurants, not to mention an award-winning convention centre.
The city’s scenic beauty, it’s golden beaches and glorious sunshine make it an obvious choice for conference organisers. Durban, and the Zulu Kingdom are home to hundreds of kilometers of pristine beaches, world-famous game reserves and the awe-inspiring Drakensberg mountain range.
EG: How fundamental has the Durban ICC been in attracting international business and tourism to the local economy?
LR: As South Africa’s first purpose-built international convention Centre, the Durban ICC played the pioneering role in attracting international events to our shores after being welcomed back into the international community. Since our official opening by former president Nelson Mandela in 1997, the Centre has welcomed literally hundreds of thousands of international visitors to South Africa.
EG: And would you subsequently include that convention centres have a fundamentally positive impact on a nation’s GDP?
LR: Absolutely! In the case of the Durban ICC, our economic impact has been significant. Our GDP contribution is independently measured and in the last financial year alone GBP 327-million (R6.3-billion) was contributed to SA’s GDP as a result of our events. Taken cumulatively, a total of GBP 2.4-billion (R45.4-billion) has been added to the national economy since 2007 thanks to our activities.
EG: Tell us more about some of the event packages you have to offer?
LR: The packages are designed to make the booking process easier for the organiser and provide an excellent event experience for the delegate. As an international centre, we have a myriad of culinary options and services available, so we were very selective about the service offerings we included in our various packages to provide the guest the best value without compromising on the five-star experience they expect from us.
EG: In what ways may the initiatives run by Durban ICC have a positive impact on business profitability for corporate clients?
LR: Our Corporate clients can benefit from preferential pricing agreements, owing to the volume of business which they place with us over a given financial year. Corporate clients can also take advantage of the versatile nature of our centre, which is able to be moulded around the specific needs of the event. One example is our “Hall of Stars” which offers a tribune seating system with retractable seats which can be raised into the ceiling. This offers cinema style seating for their morning conference and a flat-floor venue for the gala dinner that evening – without the expense of hiring two separate venues.
EG: What are some of the greatest challenges posed by companies wanting to run a successful convention and how may you assist here?
LR: Successful conventions take a lot of coordination and local knowledge, which can be a challenge. We pride ourselves on working with the best service providers in the business and offer a one-stop-shop service to remove the coordination hassle from the event process for our clients. For those clients who have a challenge traveling to South Africa at a specific date, we offer a full video-streaming service so that their event content can be enjoyed by a larger audience across the globe at a time which is more convenient for them. We also offer an innovative business model in this space which opens new revenue streams for the client as well.
EG: What can board level executives expect when travelling to the Durban International Convention Centre?
LR: These executives can expect a world-class convention experience. The Durban ICC has consistently been ranked in the top 15 convention centres in the world for the past six years in a global survey of clients of the International Association of Convention Centres.
EG: You have won numerous awards. What is the secret to your success as a multi-award winning institution?
LR: It’s really no secret – we really do aim to deliver the friendliest, warmest service to each and every guest that visits our centre. I believe this is what sets us apart from others – our genuine service excellence, which is the heart-beat of the Durban ICC. EG